Tag Archives: 18th century

Brittany – the Hub for French Corsairs

antique map reproduction bretagne

Map of the Brittany / Bretagne, 1706.

This map of Brittany shows the beginning of the 18th century when Brittany flourished as a strategic base for the French Navy and seaborne trade. The seaports of Saint-Malo, Lorient and Brest underwent a rapid development. At the time this map was released, the port of Saint-Malo was also an important hub for the French corsairs. One of the most famous corsairs was René Duguay-Trouin who was a native of Saint Malo. Duguay-Trouin led a very adventurous life, capturing hundreds of merchant ships and warships.

His adventures also included being imprisoned in Plymouth, Devon, and later capturing Rio de Janeiro. Benerson Little’s “The Sea Rover’s Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630–1730” is a must-read for everyone interested in 17th and 18th century pioneering and corsairing. Duguay-Trouin’s tactics are also described in this book.

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Queen Ann Rules the Great Britain

old uk map

Map of the British Isles, 1702.

In 1702, Anne became Queen after William III (also known as William of Orange) died with no direct heirs in 1702. During her reign, England and Scotland united in 1707 into a single kingdom called Great Britain. Ann died in 1712 also leaving no direct heirs and thus was the last Stuart on the throne. Ann’s successor was her cousin George of Hannover. Would-be catholic claimants including Anne’s half-brother were ignored.

The story of Anne the Queen of Great Britain is told in Edward Gregg’s “Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion

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The World Map Showing Some Important Exploratory Voyages

beautiful world map poster

Map of the World, 1720.

This is a map overflowing with information. Some of the most important geophysical and climatic phenomena are described in the bottom part with specific descriptions and examples of volcanoes, earthquakes, ocean currents, vortices, winds, rains and rainbows. The unexplored areas of western Canada and Alaska together with the Canadian islands in the Arctic Ocean and the Northern Coast of Greenland are called Terra Esonis; this was a mythical land, similar to Terra Incongita Australis in the Southern Hemisphere. Tasmania bears its first name after being explored by Abel Tasman: (Van) Diemen’s Land. The name was only changed to Tasmania in 1856, more than 200 years after Tasman landed on its shores in 1642. The most recognised sea voyages are marked on this map; besides Tasman’s sailing, there are also the voyages of Ferdinand Magellan and Fernao de Lorinha marked on this map. The two smaller circles show the Star Constellation of the north and south skies.

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The Ferro Meridian

grrenland iceland antique map reproduction

Map of Greenland and Iceland, 1770.

Passages from east to west Greenland are charted. The Ferro Meridian which was used in the history as a Prime Meridian crosses Iceland. It was established based on the longitude of the island of El Hierro, the westernmost island of the Canary Islands. Already since the era of Ptolemy (2nd century A.D.) the Canary Islands were considered the westernmost land of the known World. The Greenwich Prime Meridian was established by English astronomer and mathematician Sir George Biddell Airy in 1851. The Prime Meridian used today is the International Reference Meridian which passes approx 102m of the Greenwich Royal Observatory.

Authobiography of Sir George Biddell Airy” includes birth story of the Greenwich Prime Meridian.

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The Cape Verde in the 18th Century

cape verde vintage map reproduction

Map of the Cape Verde Islands, 1746.

Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony and an important supply station for the whalers and the slave traders’ ships on their way to and from America. In 1680, the eruption of Pico del Fogo, the archipelago’s largest volcano, resulted in the movement of the population within the islands. In 1712, the French Navy Captain Jacques Cassard raided and destroyed Ribeira Grande, the original capital of the archipelago and caused yet another migration of the population within a relatively short period of time. As a consequence of these two events, Praia became the new capital of Cape Verde from 1770 onwards. Both Riberia Grande and Praia, the old and new capital, are depicted on this map. Due to the frequent famines in the mid-18th century that were caused by a series of droughts, thousands of people starved to death. The remaining population was a mix of Portuguese settlers and slaves originally from West Africa. Cape Verdean Creole evolved as a mixture of the Portuguese and West African languages.

The history of Cape Verde is narrated in Richard A. Loban Jr’s “Cape Verde: Crioulo Colony to Independent Nation”.

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The Establishment of Saint Petersburg, Russia’s New Cultural Centre

antique map reproduction of russia

Map of Eastern and Northern Europe, 1711.

Under Peter the Great, who ruled between 1682 and 1725, Russia underwent a thorough transition into an Empire of global importance. Tsar Peter visited Western Europe, which inspired him to introduce new standards into Russian society. One of the large projects he designed was the foundation of Saint Petersburg, a new city named after him. The need to have a seaport that would enable better access to the West was the reason he founded the city in 1703. The city was built by serfs from all over Russia and it quickly became the showpiece and cultural centre of the Empire. On this map from 1711, only eight years after Saint Petersburg had been founded, the city is already indicated with “Nouvelle ville” (New City). In 1712, it became the capital of Russian Tsardom, later an Empire.

The life of the tsar is fully covered in the biography “Peter the Great: his Life and World” by Robert K. Massie.

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The Stuart Dynasty Attempts to Regain the British Throne

uk vintage map

Map of the British Isles, 1744.

In 1747, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland were under the reign of King George II. A couple of years before this map was printed, the Jacobite Rising took place in 1745. The uprising was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, to restore the Stuart dynasty to the British throne.

The atmosphere of this event is well described in Walter Scott’s novel “Waverley” and Diane Cavaldon’s popular “Outlander” series.

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The Sun King’s France

antique map reproduction france

Historical Map of France Depicting the Country during the Rule of Louis XIV., 1760.

This map shows the administrative division of France during the rule of Louis XIV of France, also known also as Louis the Great or The Sun King, who ruled the country between 1643 and 1715. Some of the overseas French colonies of that period and plans of major French cities are also included. Louis XIV is one of the most significant figures in French history, having a strong influence on developments elsewhere in Europe (the War of the Spanish Succession) and overseas (the French colonies).

His personal life was as turbulent as his life as a statesman and is fully described in Antonia Fraser’s “Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King”.

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1720s – High Baroque in Prague

prague antique map reproduction

Map of the City of Prague, 1720.

This map of Prague shows the three oldest quarters of the city: The Old Town (including the Jewish neighbourhood of Josefov), the New Town and the Lesser Town. In 1720, Bohemia with Prague as its capital was part of the Habsburg Monarchy ruled by Emperor Charles VI. The first half of the 18th century was a period of High Baroque architecture in Bohemia.
In the first half of the 18th century, Prague’s iconic Charles Bridge featured 30 baroque statues of saints.

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Sicilian Baroque: Revival of the Island after a Devastating Earthquake

vintage map poster of sicily

Map of the Island of Sicily, 1701.

In 1693, Sicily and neighbouring Calabria and Malta experienced one of the most destructive earthquakes ever recorded in the history of Italy. The estimated magnitude was 7.6 degrees. Approximately 60,000 people died and 70 towns were destroyed. The eastern coast of the island was the most severely affected where the aftermath was catastrophic. At that time, Sicily was under the rule of the Spanish Crown; therefore, the Spanish administration initiated a major recovery and rebuilding programme after the quake. The extent of the construction boom in the years that followed was enormous. The latest European trends in urban planning and architecture were brought to the island. New cities were founded as in many cases it was preferred to start from scratch rather than repair the original ruins. A specific “Sicilian Baroque” style was developed, which represented the best practices achieved in baroque style across Europe at that time. Sicilian Baroque was used until the 1730s, by which time most of the destroyed infrastructure was rebuild.

John Julius Norwich’s “Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History” also focuses on this crucial times in the island’s history.

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